January 12th, 2014

Early experience in humans is associated with changes in neuropeptides critical for regulating socia

The social attachments formed between human infants and their caregivers begin very early in postnatal life and play a critical role in children's survival and healthy adaptation. Typically, adults provide infants with a social environment that is fairly consistent. Caregivers learn how to recognize and respond to the infants' needs, thereby creating predictable contingencies in the environment; these regularities, in turn, make the infant's environment secure and conducive to further social learning (1, 2). Multiple perceptual, sensory, cognitive, and affective systems must become synchronized so that a social bond can develop between an infant and caregiver; this bond is then reflected in the child's adaptive behavioral responses to the environment. The goal of this experiment was to address a fundamental evolutionary and developmental question: To what extent are the neurobiological systems that regulate affiliative behaviors dependent on the social experiences afforded to most infants by their caregivers?

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